How to Be­come a Tourist Guide

Tourism Tattler - - GUIDING -

In­ter­na­tional Tourist Guides Day will be cel­e­brated on 18 Fe­bru­ary 2016, and ahead of this event we in­ves­ti­gate how to be­come a tourist guide in South Africa, what makes a good tourist guide, and how and where they find work.

Who is a Tourist Guide?

Any per­son who, for mon­e­tary or other re­ward, ac­com­pa­nies peo­ple who are trav­el­ling through or vis­it­ing any place within a coun­try, and who fur­nishes those peo­ple with in­for­ma­tion or com­ments con­cern­ing a place or ob­jects vis­ited is de­fined as a Tourist Guide. Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour op­er­a­tions in which they are both tour guide and tour op­er­a­tor.

Cat­e­gories of tourist guides

There are three cat­e­gories of tourist guides:

Site Guides – these tourist guides have at­tained the min­i­mum qual­i­fi­ca­tion in or­der to guide in a “lim­ited geo­graph­i­cal area” i.e. Hik­ing in the Drak­ens­berg, vis­it­ing the Na­tal Bat­tle­fields, tak­ing a day tour of Cape Town, vis­it­ing Soweto;

Pro­vin­cial Guides – are qual­i­fied to take tourists around an en­tire prov­ince i.e. Limpopo or Gaut­eng;

Na­tional Guides – are per­mit­ted to con­duct tours around South Africa, cross­ing all pro­vin­cial boundaries. These guides would ac­com­pany peo­ple tak­ing a com­pre­hen­sive tour of South Africa, say, by coach.

Clas­si­fi­ca­tion of Tourist Guides

Ad­ven­ture Guides – con­duct a guided ad­ven­ture ex­pe­ri­ence e.g. rock climb­ing, pad­dling, ab­seil­ing, etc.

Na­ture Guides – con­duct a guided nat­u­ral ex­pe­ri­ence in ar­eas such as Game Re­serves, Na­tional Parks, na­ture con­ser­va­tion ar­eas, trails, and the like. Cul­tural Guides – con­duct a guided cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence in a lim­ited geo­graph­i­cal area such as a mu­seum, com­mu­nity, wine farm, town or city.


Qual­i­fi­ca­tions for tourist guides are gov­erned by the Na­tional Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work (NQF).

There are only two qual­i­fi­ca­tions reg­is­tered on the NQF:

1. Na­tional Cer­tifi­cate in Tourism: Guid­ing (NQF2)

2. Na­tional Cer­tifi­cate in Tourism: Guid­ing (NQF4)

Sev­eral unit stan­dards, within the dif­fer­ent ar­eas of spe­cial­i­sa­tion, have been clus­tered to­gether to form skills pro­grammes ad­dress­ing ar­eas of spe­cial­iza­tion, and aimed at per­sons wish­ing only to com­plete the spe­cial­ized min­i­mum area of learn­ing re­quired to guide. These skills pro­grammes are reg­is­tered by CATHSSETA (The Cul­ture Arts, Tourism, Hos­pi­tal­ity and Sport Sec­tor Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Au­thor­ity) for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pur­poses. The ap­pli­ca­ble unit stan­dards are reg­is­tered on the NQF. In or­der to reg­is­ter as a site guide spe­cial­is­ing in cul­ture, na­ture, or ad­ven­ture guid­ing you need dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of unit stan­dards. These rules of com­bi­na­tion can be ac­cessed on the CATHSSETA web­site, at To reg­is­ter as a pro­vin­cial or na­tional guide you need, as a min­i­mum, qual­i­fi­ca­tion at NQF level 4 plus the re­quired unit stan­dard for your area of spe­cial­iza­tion – You can also view these on the CATHSSETA web­site as given above. Note that the re­quire­ments for guide regis­tra­tion, in­clud­ing what learn­ing pro­gramme or course is needed for which cat­e­gory of guid­ing, is the com­pe­tence of the Pro­vin­cial Regis­trars of Tourist Guides.

Tourist Guid­ing Train­ing and As­ses­sors

All tourist guide train­ers and as­ses­sors have to be ac­cred­ited by CATHSSETA to be able to train ac­cord­ing to the na­tion­ally rec­og­nized stan­dards and qual­i­fi­ca­tions net­work.

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